General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

How would dirt cheap abundant clean electricity change the world?

Asked by Ltryptophan (12006points) 1 month ago from iPhone

Free-ish energy, good/bad?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

20 Answers

snowberry's avatar

Free, free-ish? Explain. It’s not solar, because the batteries are expensive to make and expensive to dispose of, and on top of that many of them explode. So are you talking about wind? Something else?

Free endless energy- someone would find a way to limit the amount the average person received without paying for it. That’s how it is.

Ltryptophan's avatar

A hypothetical world where electricity is both very inexpensive, and abundant. The how is not available.

Zaku's avatar

If it were abundant enough to replace most/all our other energy sources, it would be immensely transformative, and perhaps allow us to survive the climate crisis that otherwise seems unfortunately likely to wipe out life as we know it.

There is no bad in what you listed, but there could be bad in what humans do about it, or in the details you didn’t mention.

seawulf575's avatar

It’s like asking how good a ride you can get from a unicorn as opposed to a normal horse. Even if you came up with some new power source, human greed would play in. You would need something to utilize that power which would cost money. You would need something to harness the energy and that would cost money. And even if the original cost was very small, human greed would drive it up.

gondwanalon's avatar

Unlimited nearly free energy equals nearly unlimited possibilities.

Zaku's avatar

@seawulf575 No, it’s not, unless the unicorn has magic powers.

Imagine you’re stuck in a confined space (as we are, on Earth, but in this case, imagine you need to live in a barn with the horse), and you have a horse to maintain, which requires brushing, hoof maintenance, exercise, good hay which you have to pay a significant amount for and carry from a neighboring farm, clean water which you need to hand-pump and hand-carry, and which poops and pees all over the place you need to live. The horse is getting a bit old, and you don’t know how long it will last, and don’t see how you will be able to afford to replace it when it dies.

Then imagine a “unicorn” shows up, which forages from the forest and grooms itself, only poops silver nuggets, pees clean sanitary water with no odor, and will live longer than you will.

The old horse is the fossil fuel industry.

The unicorn is the possibility of, say, a clean fusion power tech, which safely and cleanly combines naturally super-abundant hydrogen into helium and produces unlimited energy and has only clean water and helium gas (which decays back to hydrogen) as a byproduct.

. . .

Abundant sustainable cheap clean energy might not make human greed vanish completely, but greedy humans can be dealt with, in a much happier scenario with abundant sustainable clean power, than with impending environmental catastrophes and an energy crisis.

snowberry's avatar

@Zaku What a wonderful idea! Bring in the unicorns!

I am going to hunt up my unicorn catching net right now! <thrashes about in closets and under beds>

Wait! Will I need a permit? Will I need to attend a certification course so I can catch them without injury to the unicorn or damage property? Do you think there will be unicorn ranches? I suppose it would be a very high security venture. Or maybe they only reproduce in the wild?

I’m so excited! When do we start?

smudges's avatar

^^ Yes! ♡

Dutchess_III's avatar

@snowberry….wind requires batteries to store the electricity in too. For some reason I can’t find the information on commercial batteries that I’m looking for.

seawulf575's avatar

@Zaku ” greedy humans can be dealt with,” We haven’t been able to deal with them in the entire history of mankind. I’m not sure why we would suddenly be able to going forward.

JLeslie's avatar

When basic needs are taken care of amazing things can happen! Everyone could be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Money previously used for electricity would now be freed up for other things. Could be healthcare, creative projects, saving for the future, the possibilities are endless.

The fewer the financial worries, the more people can give their time to improve themselves and society.

RocketGuy's avatar

Ground and seal transportation would be free, aside from the cost of financing the equipment and maintenance i.e. no fuel costs. Even air travel across relatively short distances would be free.

kritiper's avatar

Having it would be WONDERFUL!!!
The hard part is getting/producing it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Start up is kind of expensive butwe’re getting lots and lots of it @kritiperl. Just need a place (industrial batteries) to to store it in. And we’re working that out as we go.

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III Like I said: “The hard part is getting/producing it.” And we aren’t there yet.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But we’ve been producing the hell out of it for years. All around the world.

kritiper's avatar

…ho hum…
There is a problem in the world right now in producing the lithium to produce these storage batteries. If what you say, @Dutchess_III , was true then we’d be there already.
But we ain’t!

And there is the problem of self igniting battery fires…
And just where we would put all of these HUGE batteries…

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Free-ish energy gave us the Industrial Revolution, ended slavery and made humans immensely more productive. Most pre-1800 energy was muscle power, both human and animal. Burning coal and oil gave us free-ish energy.

Nuclear fission was expected to give us free-ish energy but that didn’t work out. But it is a huge source, and the major source in some places including Illinois in the US and the nation of France.

If nuclear fusion becomes cost-effective, my guess is it will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. Like fission, it will be expensive to implement and profitable but not free-ish.

I will be happy to be proved wrong if fusion’s lack of radioactive waste makes it a dream come true.

RocketGuy's avatar

With modern computers and safety systems, nuclear is much safer than in the old days. Plus, the volume of nuclear waste is tiny compared to waste from burning coal.

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